The following is a full written review of Batman (Vol. 2) #39 – Written by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo – Release: February 25th 2015.
The Endgame story of the New 52 Batman-run has been extremely entertaining, and we’re almost at the very end of it. Last month’s issue was great, and today we’ll go into Endgame Part 5 – as Batman seeks out a group from his past to clear his head, and make him understand just what the Joker is up to.
Let’s talk about the cover. I really like it this month. I wasn’t a big fan of the cover in #38, but I like the Joker-centric cover for #39. The chair of victims is extremely morbid, and befitting of the situation the Joker is in. Some may argue that this is another cover that is too simplistic, with not enough going on in the background – but I think that’s a very subjective issue to have with a comic book cover.
Warning – the following plot-summary contains spoilers.
Endgame Part 5 opens with the Caped Crusader having a chat with the Court of Owls, looking for their cooperation in finding this Dionesium and finding answers. Sadly, they refuse to cooperate – and an ancient Talon attacks The Dark Knight. He asks if the Talon remembers the Pale Man being around 400 years ago. We are not explicitly told the answer at this point. At this point we learn that the Joker has infiltrated the armory, and Alfred has taken him on – but is unsuccesful and his right hand is cut off. The World’s Greatest Detective finds out that the only way to get a cure, is to retrieve it from the Joker’s spine, and he seeks out help from the Bat-family…. and the antagonists of Gotham. As Wayne’s plan is set in motion, the A-Story for Batman #39 concludes.
If there’s one thing I didn’t like about the issue, it is how suddenly it ends. Just like that. Sure, I get that there’s one more issue – but for a monthly series, this issue isn’t really chock-full of things we’ll remember, and answers we need. We don’t get the answer about the Pale Man, we don’t see Alfred following his encounter with the Joker, and the story ends just before ‘the big bang’ of Endgame. This isn’t a filler story, this is an important one, but we find no answers in Batman #39.
The artwork in Batman #39’s A-story is spot-on as always. This issue is very graphic, there’s a lot of blood – and it’s not for everyone – but darn it, Capullo and the rest of the art team just does a perfect job once again. I would like to mention how perfect the final image in the A-story is. The Joker looks very much like Two-face here. See how on one side his hair is perfect, his face is clean – but on the other side his hair is gone, and his face looks rotten. Perhaps this is a hint. Perhaps the Joker is rotting right before our eyes – and maybe, just maybe, he eyed this as his very last trick. Maybe he knows that he, the Pale Man, is about to die, maybe that’s why he’s going all out this time.
The B-Story The Last Smile by James Tynion IV & Dustin Nguyen is very interesting. The Doctor we’ve been following tells the inmates the story she’s uncovered. The man she thinks the Joker is – a mere mortal. The convicts don’t like the sound of that. Then our Doctor meets the Joker who reveals he had let her to the story – a story designed by him. Fake. As the convicts break through, she is gifted with a gun and six bullets – as the Joker wanders off. The Joker had fabricated her story. And we don’t know who he is.
The artwork of the B-story is actually very good – probably the best it’s been in the Endgame B-stories. I only thought the Joker wasn’t as scary as he should be, but all in all the artwork was great in the B-story.
Final Grade: B+ – Beautiful artwork is the key for Batman #39, and some might argue that the A-story is too secretive. We don’t learn anything new, really, and the concluding part of Endgame will reveal all. The B-story is excellent, the best B-story yet. For full list of Comic Book Review grades go here.
I’m Jeffrey Rex